When it all comes down to it... when you're old and reminiscing on the "good ole days" with your equally wrinkled (but still smoking hot) babe by your side, pictures are the only thing you'll have to look back on and share for generations to come. I can think of no better gift than captured moments in time and this is what has really sparked my love for what I do. If you are looking for artistry and adventure, look no further.
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Hi, I’m Alyson: the gal behind the lens! Oh, and I’m also the lucky one who gets to capture your love story! At a young age, I initially fell in love with photography as an art form for self-expression, and over the years my love for photography has morphed into the ultimate storytelling tool.
April 2, 2020
This is a story about surfing and sunsets and tan shirtless men. I am writing this still in government-enforced isolation and once again on my 3rd glass of wine. I promised you beautiful surfer dudes and beautiful surfer dudes you will get. (Haven’t read part I? Do so here ).
LETS GET INTO IT
So there I was on the plane to the coast; self pity of my Mexico City heartbreak all bottled up and once again not in a window seat.
Insert Puerto Escondido. A small and delightfully unassuming surf town that’s off the radar enough to not be packed with tourists, but known enough to not be a total bore.
I stepped off the plane and was instantly greeted with the familiarity of humidity and salty air. There were giant palm trees– the tall skinny ones that scream tropical oasis– and I instantly knew I was in the right place.
I booked an Airbnb a stones throw from the ocean with an interior that looked like a Moroccan oasis and I very quickly learned that the Puerto uniform is a bathing suit top and optional pants which I am happy to report I adapted to quite nicely.
After settling in, I met a French couple who worked remotely for a tech company in San Francisco and were also staying at my Airbnb. Charlie and Ben. They were fun and spoke perfect English and we became fast friends.
That first day, having settled into my room and armed with my tropical uniform, I ventured down to the beach.
Where Florida beaches are flat and either packed with the elderly or spring breakers, Mexico beaches offer a refreshing variance in elevation (rocky cliffs!) and an array of diverse beach-goers.
I chose an empty spot next to a group of guys with a bunch of surf boards and proceeded my people watching in the pleasantly warm sun.
I had a whole lot of nothing planned and that excited me.
About half an hour in I hear one of the guys by the surfboards yell something in Spanish.
Despite my daily Duolingo lessons I jammed in before this trip, I knew basically no Spanish. But after some visual inferring I realized he was yelling “shark” and my interest was immediately peaked.
For some reason– probably had something to do with the fact that I was tanning topless all on my lonesome– he came over and made sure I was aware.
Now, remember Charlie and Ben? Well Charlie happened to be in the water and said shark was swimming at a very uncomfortably close distance to Charlie. Tan surfer boy (we’ll call him Jose) starts running towards her.
I scramble to put my top back on and watch it all unfold. Turns out the shark was a “resident shark” and apparently he was nice(??). Still, it scared the shit out of Charlie and gave an excuse for tan surfer boy to talk to me.
After the resident shark had its fun, Jose– confidence surely boosted from his heroic shark rescue– continued to strike up a conversation with me.
With my top now safely secured, it felt slightly less weird and the conversation was welcomed. He asked if I knew how to surf and I lied and said no. He pointed at his abundance of surfboards and said he’d love to teach me. I smiled and said “Si, gracias” and walked over to the group of surfers. (I’ll admit this was my plan all along.)
Hiding my terror that the shark was still in the water, I felt slightly more at ease with my new local surf instructor by my side.
Turns out, I’m not half bad at surfing and, I know what you’re thinking but, no, Jose was not my love interest this trip (although I did get a new surf buddy). We still chat on WhatsApp. Hope you’re well Jose!
That brings us to day número dos.
Having just come back from a morning nap on the beach, I walked back to my Airbnb, hair wet from a quick ocean dip and skin already feeling a little overcooked .
I noticed there was a rather gorgeous shirtless man painting the building of my Airbnb. As gorgeous shirtless men seems to be the norm here, I didn’t think much of it and continued inside.
There was a community area with a kitchen and lounge and I chose to spend the mid-day there getting some emails done. I played my music on the speaker they had and got to work.
About 10 minutes in, much to my surprise, gorgeous shirtless painter man enters and grabs a glass of water and proceeds to sit next to me. He asks me who’s playing on the speaker and, suddenly very glad I chose them, I tell him it’s a collab with Leon Bridges and Khruangbin.
We got to chatting and turns out he’s also French (what’s with all the French people here??) AND part Colombian and yes I was dying inside. He had been traveling around Mexico on his motorcycle painting murals (see again: dying inside) and I was beginning to love this town more and more.
I asked to see his murals and he showed me some pictures. Imagine being on an extremely high dose of psychedelics and you get the picture.
I noted said observations and our conversation quickly spiraled down the route of life and consciousness and free will and I was in my happy place.
Maybe two hours had passed– what is time when you’re with a hunky French/Colombian– and he eventually said he had to go but would love to see me later.
Later that day I got an invite to a (I quote) “fire throwing flow” that he and some friends were having that night at the beach.
I quickly realized that gorgeous shirtless man (we’ll call him Louis– say it the French way) was definitely a hippy. And while I myself do not typically identify as such, I was down to play the part.
There was fire and there were drugs and there was strange exotic dancing and it was weird in the best way and I’ll leave it at that.
Ok I think now’s a good time to pause and let you get into the pictures. We’ll resume at the end:)
See what I mean? It’s magical and I never wanted to leave.
The next day, after a full day of surfing and naps in the sun (turns out fire throwing flows are exhausting events), it was late once again and we found the last bar that was open at 11:30pm on a Tuesday. We sat on a couch with sand instead of flooring and chatted away.
Did I mention he had a French accent and also spoke perfect Spanish? Cause he did and I could have listened to it all night.
Not long after we sat down, a very loud and very drunk American girl (I swear, no one else finds their own kind as well as Americans) approaches us and begins to say things I honestly cannot repeat because I have a brand to uphold.
She was hilarious and vulgar and told us we looked like we have amazing you know what– which was slightly awkward because we had not had you know what. But Sara didn’t know this and we let her have that one.
*Later that night we heard an ATV roaring back and forth down the main road and a woman yelling obscenities. We immediately looked at each other knowingly and laughed because it was most definitely Sara.
An ode to drunk American girls everywhere.
While Louis was off painting murals and making us a living (joking of courseee), I spent my days reading books on the beach and surfing my little heart out (my newfound hobby!).
I explored remote beaches and talked to strangers and continued my daily taco streak and fell in love with that little town and all its quirks.
I also got gypped 500 pesos because the taxi driver “didn’t have any cash” but I’m trying to let that one go…
Solo travel has always been close to my heart. Traveling alone allows you to be far more open than you would when armed with your closest friends and preconceived ideas. It allows you to explore a side of yourself sans story, to be completely new, reinvented.
This trip was exactly that. There are more people I met and stories that unfolded but some things I want to hold onto for myself. But I will say that this trip showed me the type of life I want to live. It showed me how many amazing people there are on this planet and that I will most definitely be back here.
The last morning there was a big swell coming in and me and my three new French friends (Charlie and Ben joined us!) woke up for the sunrise to watch the waves.
The guys being far more experienced surfers than us, joined the rest of the locals in the water as Charlie and I watched from afar.
I sat there that morning watching them surf and I breathed in the salty air and felt such gratitude for it all. And for the first time in the 4 years I’ve been in St. Pete, I was sad to come home.
And so I learned that while Dan is super cool and intellectual and plays Joni Mitchell on the guitar, there’s a lot of cool intellectual guitar playing men out there. And some of them are even tan and shirtless and French/Colombian.
What a world.